My earliest memories about Christmas was waking up, crawling out of the warm bed onto the cold floor of the second story farm house, looking into the darkened living room, and seeing that Santa Claus had, in fact, visited us out in the country. Than my brothers and I got dressed for the cold, Iowa early morning and went to the barn where we milked cows, fed pigs, and gathered eggs; then we cleaned out the barn, fed the cows, let them out into their yard, and brought in fire wood for the basement stove. After all those chores were completed, and we cleaned up, we got to see what Santa had brought. That’s right, boys and girls, I was born an Iowa farmer’s kid.
But I had other plans. My fourth grade bible school teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up and I told her that I wanted to be a pilot and fly. Space was just beginning then and being an astronaut was even a possibility. So, off I went – to Iowa State where I got a degree in Aerospace Engineering. One of my prized possessions is a bumper sticker that says “Aerospace Engineering – Actually It Is Rocket Science!” By the time I finished, though, I had to wear glasses, so I couldn’t fly in the Air Force, but being an engineering student was enough to keep me out of Viet Nam. My draft number was 158 and the year I was elegible, they stopped calling at 150, so I dodged a real mess there.
After that, I meandered around as I gradually worked my way into the Civil Engineering profession. I provided engineering for both design and construction of highways, mostly in the Chicago area, but some in Iowa, a single project on a highway in Georgia, and a small project in New York City. One of the most important design features for heavy duty highways, such as interstates, is 18 wheeler trucks. Their 80,000 pound total weight adds a lot of stress when traveling at 65 mph, and this stress must be accounted for in the pavement design.
During my working career, my family and I enjoyed driving vacations on the highways – to Hilton Head, Orlando, Yellowstone, Albeququerque, Seattle, Albany, and many other places in the United States. We played two main games with our girls during these drives — the license plate game and the alphabet game. You know about them, don’t you? While you are driving down the road, see how many license plates you can spot and look at roadside signs for the alphabet. Both of these games provided many hours of entertainment to our girls, as well as my wife and I. Now, of course, traveling families have cell phones and in-car dvd players, so I wonder if children even look out the car windows? If not, they really miss a lot.
I’m retired now, so I am working on two separate books – both related to my past life.
Book 1 is “Have You Seen My Daddy’s 18 Wheeler?” which is a picture book about 18 wheeler trucks, what a 2nd grader understands about what his truck driving Daddy does, and what Dad’s truck looks like and what he hauls. I figure it is a whole lot easier to spot an 18 wheeler than it is that license plate from Kansas. Did you ever try to see it when traveling at 70 mph?
Book 2 is “Russell Builds a Bridge” which will introduce high school and college students to the world of bridge construction. You all know about bridges, don’t you? Every road you travel has bridges. Either you cross over something on a bridge or you pass under something with the bridge above you. Civil engineers designed and provided construction engineering for those bridges. Many high school and college students think they want to be Civil Engineers but they really do not have a good idea about what civil engineering will allow/require them to do. This book will provide a brief description and many colorful, detailed pictures about what civil engineers do for brige construction.
So, I want to blog about what I am trying to do. It will offer me a means to write. It will allow others to see what I am writing and they might be able to add something to my thoughts which may help each of the books.
I’m adding a copy of the book covers. I hope you enjoy them.